New York state overdose prevention bill becomes law

New York state overdose prevention bill becomes law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 21, 2011

Contact:  Evan Nison, President, Ithaca College SSDP, 607-216-8096

Stacia Cosner, Associate Director, SSDP National, 410-299-3433

Albany, NY – Yesterday, July 20th, Governor Cuomo signed into law a statewide 911 Good Samaritan Policy. The purpose of the law is to encourage a witness or victim of an alcohol or other drug related medical emergency to call 911 to seek emergency assistance in order to save the life of a potential overdose victim. This new life-saving policy gives legal amnesty to individuals who are in of need medical treatment resulting from drug or alcohol use, as well as to individuals who seek help for someone else in need of medical assistance resulting from drug or alcohol use. The law protects both parties from being charged or prosecuted for drug or alcohol possession.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) at Ithaca College has first-hand experience with these policies after leading a successful effort on their campus to adopt a Good Samaritan (also known as medical amnesty) policy at the campus level last year.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy met with dozens of legislators to help assure the bill’s passage. Part of this effort was providing letters of support written by substance abuse prevention professionals and health staff testifying to the effectiveness of similar policies.  In addition, lawmakers were given copies of a Cornell University study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy on the outcome of their policy, showing that calls for help doubled after it’s enactment while alcohol use remained the same.

“Because the City of Ithaca has more experience than any other city in the state with these policies, we were in a unique position to be able to prove to the Senators that this bill would in fact save lives” said Evan Nison, President of the SSDP Chapter at Ithaca College.  “We commend the sponsors of the bill, Senator DeFrancisco and Assembly member Gottfried, as well the Senate and Assembly leadership from both sides of the aisle on coming together, acting quickly, and passing this life-saving legislation.”

The passage of this bill was the culmination of a collaborative effort of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD).